Social-Emotional Reciprocity

  • back and forth conversation 
    • lacks ability to clarify if not understood or ask for help or clarification 
  • May fail to respond when spoken to directly 
    • may result in one sided conversation
  • sharing interests and emotions
    • fail to share achievements or enjoyment with others
    • difficulty responding to praise and criticism 
  • initiating and responding to interactions
  • Struggling to use language socially and understanding the dynamics of conversation
  • this may cause an autistic individual to be interpreted as uninterested, aloof, or self focused in interactions and conversations.

Non-Verbal Communication

  • integrating verbal and non-verbal communication
    • Difficulties with sarcasm and non-literal communication 
  • establishing and maintaining eye contact
    • Eye contact can be uncomfortable or even painful for people with autism and should never be forced. 
  • Understanding and using body language 
    • may not face who they are speaking to
  • not noticing or using gestures, facial expressions, or tone of voice
  • This may cause an autistic individual to misinterpret someone’s intended message or to be interpreted as rude, nervous, or disengaged when they do not use or understand non-verbal cues. 

Developing, Maintaining, and Understanding Relationships

  • adjusting behavior to different social contexts
    • Understanding social hierarchies 
    • responding to contextual cues
    • noticing others’ disinterest
    • making appropriate questions or comments
  • making friends
    • understanding and establishing appropriate boundaries
  • showing interest in others
  • Understanding others’ perspectives
  • Recognizing others’ emotions, preferences, expectations, or motivation
  • This may cause an autistic individual to struggle with workplace relationships or respecting boundaries that are not clearly established. They may be interpreted as defensive or less empathetic when they do not understand the other perspective.

Restricted or repetitive behaviours or interests

  • repetitive movements, use of objects, or speech 
    • using formal speech 
    • repeating phrases or using scripts
    • using repetitive sounds or movements
  • insistence on sameness
  • inflexible adherence to routines
    • resistance to transitions and change 
  • ritualized patterns of behaviour 
  • restricted interests
    • narrow range of interests 
    • different intensity in interests
    • focus on irrelevant aspects
  • over or under reactivity to sensory input
  • This may cause different behaviours such as rocking, hand flapping or other self-stimulatory behaviours and difficulties with changes in schedules, coworkers, or work duties. 


May or may not have co-occurring difficulties with:

  • Using and understanding language
    • May process written or visual information easier than verbal information
  • executive functioning and thinking flexibly 
    • planning, initiating tasks, making goals, etc. 
  • co-occurring mental health diagnoses or emotional regulation 
  • understanding the bigger picture and abstract thinking 
  • This may cause challenges in responding appropriately in the moment, understanding or using language appropriately, knowing how to structure their day or break tasks down into smaller steps independently, or an increased need for breaks and safe places to regulate.